FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

General

Why should my organization get Foresight?

In this era of smart, connected everything, we think helicopters should be smarter. Our mission is to give these critical machines the ability to tell you the health and status of all key components, including gears, shafts, and bearings. Foresight provides optimized and automated RTB solutions, flight data and exceedance monitoring, and predictive diagnostic component monitoring.  These capabilities combine to enable greater operational readiness, more optimized maintenance practices, and enhanced safety.

What functionality does your HUMS offer? What systems and components are monitored?

Foresight offers three core pieces of functionality.

  • Engine health monitoring and component vibration monitoring

  • Flight data monitoring with exceedances

  • Optimized rotor track and balance functionality

To support the above, the system has baked in optimal RTB solutions and Remaining Useful Life Estimates on drivetrain components.

We monitor the health of all critical mechanical systems, including most internal/external shafts, gear, bearings, couplings and splines. While each aircraft differs below you can see an example dashboard.

 

How does Foresight compare to the legacy HUMS systems and others other market?

Many HUMS systems still on the market today were developed over a decade ago. Foresight takes advantages of advances in sensor technology, edge processing, cloud architecture, connectivity, user interface design, and predictive analytics to deliver a next generation product.

While we focus on the advantages of our system rather than the features and specs of other systems, we’d encourage you to ask 9 questions if you are considering a Health and Usage Monitoring System:

  • Usability – can your team use the system or does it require outside/specialized interpretation?

  • Full Functionality – does it offer RTB and FDM/Exceedance monitoring in addition to mechanical system monitoring?

  • Availability – can  you access the UI from any device or is it only available on a dedicated PC groundstation?

  • Prognostics – does it provide a predictive view (including component RUL) allowing you to better plan maintenance windows?

  • Specificity – does it tell you something is wrong with the Accessory Drive or tell you the status of the Hydraulic Pump inside?

  • Data Transfer -is data captured on the aircraft moved automatically to the user interface or does it require manually offloading it?

  • Updates – does the system have update-over-the-air functionality that insures bugs will be fixed and improvements made?

  • Weight – how much does the onboard system (including all cabling) weigh?

  • Installation Time – how long does the system take to install?

  • Validation: Does the system allow validation of fault by viewing the raw signal processing waveforms/component details?

  • Certifications – is the system STC certified?

2020-01-20 GPMS Foresight Comparison

Will I need experts to interpret the data or can I do it myself?

We’ve specifically designed Foresight to have an intuitive, modern user-interface that allows maintainers, flight operations teams, and safety officers to access and use the system without the help of outside experts or specialized talent. While GPMS technical support stands by ready to help, typicaly teams are up and running the day the system is installed.

Will Foresight work on any helicopter?

Foresight is a flexible, modular system that can be adapted to any rotorcraft, traditional helicopters, electric VTOLs, and large UAV/drones.  That said, in most instances FAA Supplemental Type Certificates are required.

See our STC roadmap here.

Does Foresight enable predictive maintenance or condition based maintenance (credits)?

Foresight enables predictive maintenance but does not replace OEM required scheduled maintenance and allow an operator to move to an ‘on condition’ footing.  The system allows operators to get ahead of particular maintenance issues that are typically dealt with reactively. Referencing the diagram below, GPMS enables operators to move up the maintenance maturity curve away from Reactive Maintenance (orange) toward a combination of Planned Maintenance (light green) and Predictive Maintenance (dark green).

 

Is your system (onboard hardware and software) updatable?

Yes. Onboard firmware and software is fully updateable as a result of our cloud-based architecture and wireless/automated aircraft-to-cloud connectivity. And of course our cloud-based software can be updated and improved at any time.

What is the estimated timeline from purchase to implementation?

Assuming we have a STC for your aircraft, our constraints are (a) specific kit availability and (b) installation support availability.  Customers will need to have the aircraft available for installation as well. Assuming all these factors line up, turnaround can be under a month.

Onboard Systems and Certifications

How much does the system weigh? If lighter than traditional HUMS, how do you achieve that?

The weight is far lower than traditional HUMS. Our Bell 407 system is less than 9 lbs / 4 kg (including all hardware – cables, brackets, components). The biggest weight driver is the change from a star-architecture for cabling to a bused architecture.

How much storage capacity does the memory/storage device of Foresight hold?

The On-Board Control Unit has 32 GB of storage allowing it to store a lot of operation data in the event that data download is not available at the end of the operation. This capacity should provide up to 2,000 hours of flight data.

How much physical space is required on the aircraft? Where can the equipment be stored?

Our largest box (the onboard control unit, or OBCU) is 7 x 4 x 1 inches, while the tachometer interfaces (usually three are installed) are 1 x 1 x 3. Therefore, there are many options for installation locations even in really tight aircraft. In terms of storage, we look for a convenient location that does not interfere with existing maintenance or equipment. The OBCU is IP 67 rated, so can be installed in non-traditional locations (for instance, the Bell 206 installation has it outside the aircraft on the top deck).

Are there maintenance requirements for Foresight (e.g. maintenance of cabling, calibration)

The system has self-checking built in and there is no need for calibration. The hardware design really eliminates maintenance requirements.  The system does have a coin battery to speed startup by maintaining time on the box. It has a very long life and is replaceable on condition.

What platforms are STCed or on your roadmap? What if my aircraft isn’t there?

See current STCs and Certification Roadmap here.

If you don’t see your aircraft, contact us to discuss timeline and commitments we would need to move forward. If we’re doing a new helicopter platform this typically requires two visits – one for three days, where we need access to the aircraft and then one for installation, which would typically take two weeks. The lead time depends on our current certification schedule when the customer is ready to move forward. A certification process typically will take 4 months.

 

What certification standard is the Foresight hardware designed to?

Foresight hardware has been designed to DAL E. The software not certified as it is intended as a tool for maintainers so is not critical to the safety of flight. It is also not used to replace normal maintenance schedules and requirements. It provides greater insight and visibility into the operations of the aircraft.

How does GPMS decide locations for its sensors?

We evaluate the gearbox design, and choose locations that: a) will give a transfer function from the component to the sensor and b) allow ease of installation. Generally speaking, the locations are on bearing supports where there are easily accessible mounting studs/bolts. We designed an integrated bracket to easily replace existing washers.

Does the customer need to modify the aircraft Flight Control systems for flight data information? If not, how does Foresight acquire it?

Foresight was designed to minimize interfaces into the rest of the aircraft. It has an on-board GPS and INU so it can track the movement of the aircraft. We do have both an analog and ARINC429 interface to gather some aircraft data, but that does not require any modifications to the flight control systems/software etc. We can also tie into the existing antenna for GPS or add an antenna.

Can you get flight data from analog as well as digital aircraft?

Yes. We have both an analog and ARINC429 interface to gather aircraft data

Connectivity and Software Infrastructure

How does the data get from the aircraft to the ground station? Is this data transfer automatic?

Typically, Foresight uses a cloud-based infrastructure. As such, data stored in the Onboard Control Unit is downloaded/uploaded when the aircraft is in cooldown mode. When the aircraft is back from a mission and Foresight detects the power down sequence, it automatically turns on the WiFi or cellular connection and off-loads the data (typically in 2 min) to the cloud. No human action is required. That mission’s data is then available in the Foresight software application. If necessary, the system can also be configured for manual download, where connectivity is unavailable or undesirable.

 

What are the WiFi network setup requirements?

Typically, there is some configuration required for wireless connectivity from the Foresight Onboard Control Unit to the customer WiFi access point. Firewall permissions may need to be adjusted. We also connect via cellular to provide redundancy.

What are the ground-based equipment requirements for the Foresight system?

The data from the system is accessed through any browser enabled device (laptop, tablet, cell phone). There are no specific ground equipment (computer hardware) requirements.

Where is your cloud-based web application hosted?

Foresight uses the Amazon Web Service IoT cloud platform. Where needed, we can also host the application in the AWS government cloud.

How does Foresight accommodate forward deployments without connectivity to the cloud via WiFi or cellular?

Where needed, Foresight can be configured to be used on a local dedicated laptop.

System Functionality and Alerts

Is it true your RTB functionality eliminates RTB related maintenance flights?

Foresight’s regime recognition capability automatically captures data whenever during normal operations the aircraft is in an appropriate regime to do so. The system averages 30 RTB acquisitions per hour normally, but operators can also enter an RTB maintenance mode to collect approximately 4 acquisitions per minute if they want to do so manually. Once the operation is complete and data is off-loaded, you then select your Rotor System (Main/Tail/Twin/Contra) and RTB Activity (Rotor Vibration or Rotor Track) and Foresight provides an optimized solution for the RTB adjustment.  You can review Foresight’s RTB adjustment solution, the accept the best for your operations. The system allows the maintainer to store RTB moves for and view/compare pre/post move vibration. Operators who make this adjustment report minimal need for traditional maintenance flights.

What are the exceedances that are tracked and reported by Foresight? Can we specify out own?

Foresight automatically alerts on the Chapter 1 exceedances specified by the OEM. Beyond that, however, the system is configurable and we do have some operators who have added custom exceedances based on their own safety policies.

I don’t want to log in to learn if there is a problem. How does text and email alerting work?

Foresight generates a notification once a specific threshold is reached or an exceedance has occured. These notifications can appear in the application itself when logged in but you can also elect to have them delivered via email or text message. Push notifications can be sent to any number of people you designate. You can configure push notifications in the Account Management panel.

I already have an FDM system. How is Foresight different and value adding?

If you already have an FDM system, that’s great. We think FDM represents a great first step in the process of creating a smarter, safer fleet. We even integrate with some FDM/Comms systems to enable more real-time connectivity.

Depending on your system (simple flight following vs multi-parameter tracking), Foresight may offer additional FDM functionality as we track flights along 33 different parameters and capture Chapter 1 and operator defined exceedances to ensure safe operations.

If your FDM already enables multiparameter and exceedance tracking, Foresight adds value through its automated Rotor Track and Balance function as well its Predictive Health Monitoring of engines and mechanical components.

 

How does Foresight’s monitoring complement the monitoring the engine OEM may provide?

Flight manuals call for Engine Power checks. We automate that process and return the margin, based on the inflight check procedure. There is no need for you to record the data for post flight analysis, as we capture it and trend it automatically. Additionally, we use vibration sensors to capture the mechanical systems around the engine. In that sense, we complement any “gas path” analysis being done by the engine OEM.

Integrations and Exporting

Does Foresight talk to my maintenance tracking or safety management software system?

It can! We have APIs to bring “the voice of the aircraft” into maintenance and SMS software applications.

Are raw data collected and easily exported to other programs (e.g. Excel)?

Yes. Foresight collects raw data for analysis on a periodic basis. The frequency can be configured. It is exportable for different analysis, as desired. For instance, FDM information is exportable to X-Plane.

Prognostics and Algorithms

What are the different types of Condition Indicators used by Foresight?

For shafts: SO1 Mag/Phase, SO2 Mag/Phase, SO3 Mag/Phase, TSA RMS, TSP Peak to Peak, Inches per sec (SO1), and regime

For bearings: cage, ball, inner and outer race energy, shaft order 1 energy, whip/whirl, average envelope energy, and temperature.

For gears: residual RMS, residual kurtosis, residual crest factor, energy ratio, energy operator kurtosis/crest factor, FM0, Sideband modulation factor, G2 analysis, narrow band analysis kurtosis/crest factor, amplitude modulation RMS/kurtosis, frequency modulation RMS/kurtosis, and gear mesh energy.

Will there be a baseline vibration level that will be determined and then the thresholds set based on the baseline? If so, how will the initial baseline be determined and how much data would be required?

Foresight does not require a “learning” period. Our threshold setting process is based upon the physics of rotating equipment and when a component is no longer good. We do not model or predict when a component will fail. This is an important nuance difference. We are providing guidance about when maintenance is indicated to avoid collateral damage etc. Typically our system is able to diagnose problems within a few flight hours after installation.

How are the thresholds determined and based on what? We have a process of threshold setting based on calculating the covariance of nominal data, which can be done in a few flight hours.

 

How are your prognostics done?

Foresight uses its advanced algorithms to identify faults at a very early stage. It then monitors those faults over time and watches the rates of propagation. We also have a state observer built in, which refines the confidence of the remaining useful life estimate over time as it watches the fault propagation. When the model has a high confidence, it reports the estimate of remaining useful life, typically with 100 hours +/- before maintenance is indicated to allow for logistics planning. However, maintainers can watch the faults long before that alert is triggered to be aware of the building issues on the platform.

Note that our Remaining Useful Life estimates calculate when the part will no longer be good not necessarily when it will fail. This is an important algorithmic nuance. Our approach allows us quickly assess component health without the need for big data for model training.

Security

How do you address IoT security?

Foresight was designed with secure communications in mind. The on-board equipment does not accept in-bound queries from any devices. All communications on the aircraft are controlled from the aircraft’s Onboard Control Unit. It determines when to seek to offload data and initiates a 256-bit encrypted connection to exchange keys with the intended Foresight Cloud. Only after the secure handshake or multi-point authentication has been confirmed, will the on-board data be offloaded. For those rare use cases where even higher security is desirable or required, we have additional methodologies to deploy. Contact us to learn more.

Installation & Support

How long does installation take?

On average the first installation takes about 80 hours on a light/medium single engine aircraft. Subsequequant installations drop down to approximately 60 hours.

What is the installation process and who can perform it?

Foresight’s onboard system consists of sensors, an onboard control unit (OBCU), and other hardware components.  Installers follow the aircraft-specific STC drawings and installation instructions.  The Foresight kit can be installed by any qualified A&P mechanic. GPMS will provide onsite guidance to operators and MROs who have not installed the system before and review the final configuration for proper fit and function. The typical first installation takes 80 hours. After the first installation that your team does, they will see efficiencies for subsequent installations.

What is the level of technical support that GPMS will provide after implementation?

After the onboard system is installed, GPMS can provide training with your team so that you can fully utilize the system. Thereafter, we’ve designed the software to enable self-service without the need for outside experts (including those at GPMS). The user interface provides extensive guidance to the users to support their decision making. That said, if there are questions about the user interface or understanding the data, we are available.  Given that this is a maintenance support tool, not one that is critical to the safety of flight, we are available during business hours. Our system typically provides +/-100 hrs of advance notice, so the issues do not require a 24/7/365 call center.

Can the system be uninstalled if required?

Yes, the system can be removed without effect to airframe health or function and is even easier to remove than it is to install.

Do you have installation partners if we are not able to do this ourselves?

We do! We partner with a number of leading MROs and train these facilities on the proper installation of our onboard system.

Pricing and Data Ownership

Does pricing vary by aircraft and do you offer volume discounts for fleets?

Yes and yes. We have a small, medium, large, and extra-large aircraft pricing schedule. Volume (fleet) discounts do apply, both on the recurring service fees and upfront hardware kit costs.

What your pricing model for the Foresight system?

GPMS prices using an annual Software-as-a-Service model for Foresight together with an upfront, one-time fee for the onboard hardware kit. To get a personalized quote, as well as an ROI analysis based on your fleet, please contact us.

Who owns the data and is the data shared?

Under the terms of our Services Agreement, our customers own their own user-generated data and grants GPMS a license to it for GPMS applicable business purposes. Customers can also elect to share access to the data internally or with any of their service partners.